[Taxacom] the hurdle for all biodiv informatics initiatives

Stephen Thorpe s.thorpe at auckland.ac.nz
Mon Feb 22 20:59:43 CST 2010

I think classifications play a role in bioinformatics databases that is independent of how taxonomists might view those classifications. Speaking from the perspective of Wikispecies, we try to choose a sensible classification, based on the current literature (including the phylogenetic literature), and we tend to adopt any new classification unless there is a particularly good reason not to (such as clearly being disharmonic with the rest of the literature, and lacking phylogenetic justification). Inescapably though, IMHO, a classification in the context of a biodiversity database really is primarily just a filing system, and while we try to choose a classification 'sensibly', there is no claim that it is 'correct' in any phylogenetic sense. If we follow a new classification that taxonomists/systematists reject, then they should publish a rejection of it, which Wikispecies will probably then follow in turn ...


From: taxacom-bounces at mailman.nhm.ku.edu [taxacom-bounces at mailman.nhm.ku.edu] On Behalf Of Bob Mesibov [mesibov at southcom.com.au]
Sent: Tuesday, 23 February 2010 3:42 p.m.
Subject: Re: [Taxacom] the hurdle for all biodiv informatics initiatives

David Patterson wrote:

"Classifications can also be released.  In due course (within the next few months) the classifications will be released into GNA so that they are available to anyone who wishes to use GNA services.  That is, we are making headway. In my view, it is critical that the design of the system is fully dynamic so that we don't allow dated copies of information to predominate over current information."

Could you expand on that, please? Taxonomic publications sometimes appear containing new classifications which the relevant specialist community doesn't accept. Remind us how 'the system' will balance majority/minority view and 'dated'/current, and also just which 'system' you're referring to?
Dr Robert Mesibov
Honorary Research Associate
Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery, and
School of Zoology, University of Tasmania
Home contact: PO Box 101, Penguin, Tasmania, Australia 7316
(03) 64371195; 61 3 64371195
Website: http://www.qvmag.tas.gov.au/mesibov.html


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